WELLINGTON, MARCH 8
New Zealand beat Australia in the Twenty20 series to maintain their perfect home season on Sunday in a timely boost for Kane Williamson's team who will get two opportunities this year to shed their status as the game's perennial bridesmaids.
The Black Caps shuffled their batting order, showed faith in part-time bowlers, and displayed tactical flexibility to prevail 3-2 over Australia and make it five wins from as many home series this season.
The win is all the more significant because they will be chasing their maiden Twenty20 World Cup title in India later this year. New Zealand have never won a major global title, losing the last two 50-over World Cup finals and never reaching the World Twenty20 final.
Eight players, including Williamson, are set to miss the home Twenty20 series against Bangladesh to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) which begins on April 9.
The team hope to benefit from their experience and head coach Gary Stead believes the forced rejigging will give him a better idea of their strength in depth ahead of the World Cup.
"If it works out that there will be some players that we don't play because they're going to the IPL, the good thing for us is you're considering who might be in an extended squad that goes to the World Cup," Stead told www.stuff.co.nz.
New Zealand Cricket is hopeful the top players can jump the queue and receive COVID-19 vaccines before leaving for India and later England, the website said.
Williamson's team will also be competing for the highest honour in the game's longest format having reached the final of the inaugural World Test Championship against India in June.
New Zealand will return to England two years after losing the 2019 ODI World Cup on boundary count after a Super Over in an extraordinary tied final against the hosts at Lord's.
A two-test series against England should be perfect preparation for the New Zealanders before they take on Virat Kohli's India in the WTC final at the home of cricket starting on June 18.